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"The World Turned Upside Down” - LSE unveils new sculpture by Mark Wallinger

This bold new work by Mark Wallinger encapsulates what LSE is all about.
- Minouche Shafik, LSE Director
World Turned Upside Down
The World Turned Upside Down. Damian Griffiths

LSE has today unveiled a new sculpture on campus by the Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger.

Located outside LSE’s Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, The World Turned Upside Down is a large political globe, four metres in diameter, with nation states and borders outlined but with the simple and revolutionary twist of being inverted. Most of the landmasses now lie in the ‘bottom’ hemisphere with the countries and cities re-labelled for this new orientation.

What becomes clear at this scale, and on a globe rather than the flat, rectangular Mercator projection we are used to seeing, is the proper scale of Africa in comparison with the other continents, and the vastness of the oceans.

Mark Wallinger, artist, said: “The UN is the authority as to the names and borders. This is the world, as we know it from a different viewpoint. Familiar, strange, and subject to change.”

Recognising LSE’s expertise as a specialist university, with an international community and a global reach, Wallinger created the work to reflect the spirit of progressive enquiry that has characterised the School since its inception.

The World Turned Upside Down is a famous ballad from the English Revolution. It was used as the title for Christopher Hill’s classic account of radical underground movements from that time, and Leon Rosselson’s song in tribute to Gerrard Winstanley and the ideals of the Digger Community:

‘When once the earth becomes a common treasury again, as it must ... then this enmity of all lands will cease, and none shall dare to seek dominion over others, neither shall any dare to kill another, nor desire more of the earth than another.’ Gerrard Winstanley 1649, The True Levellers Standard Advanced.

The project has been curated by Contemporary Art Society Consultancy, which has worked with LSE for thirteen years to deliver art in the public realm for its campus central London.

Welcoming the new sculpture, LSE Director Minouche Shafik said:

“This bold new work by Mark Wallinger encapsulates what LSE is all about. We are committed to tackling the biggest global challenges through our research and teaching, and this means seeing the world from different and unfamiliar points of view.”

 Fabienne Nicholas, Head of Consultancy at the Contemporary Art Society, said:

 “LSE is a university with a truly global reach and Mark’s astute understanding of the social and political context of our times has produced a remarkable work that comments on the state of our world today. We are proud to have been commissioning great art for the LSE for over a decade and The World Turned Upside Down is a significant contribution to this important body of public artwork.”

Behind the article

The United Nations is used as the authority for the names and borders as of March 2019.

The artwork was commissioned by LSE and funded by donations. Approximately half of funding was from a generous gift by LSE alumnus Brian Smith and half from regular gifts from further LSE alumni and friends.

About Mark Wallinger

Mark Wallinger, born Chigwell/UK 1959, has created some of the most subtly intelligent and influential artworks of the last thirty years. He is known for his career-long engagement with ideas of power, authority, artifice and illusion. Using epic narratives, lyrical metaphors and ardent punning, the artist interleaves the mythological, the political and the everyday. Stylistic disparity conceals a conceptual coherence, as Wallinger poses big questions about identity, and about the social, cultural and political power structures that guide us, and because of which we are as we are.

Wallinger was first nominated for the Turner Prize in 1995, and won it in 2007 for his installation State Britain, an exact replica of peace campaigner Brian Haw’s protest camp in London’s Parliament Square. Ecce Homo (1999), a life-sized sculpture of Jesus Christ, was the first work to occupy the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square. Wallinger represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2001.

Public commissions are central to Wallinger’s practice, the most recent being Writ in Water, a monumental installation to commemorate the sealing of the Magna Carta, commissioned by the National Trust for Runnymede, England. In 2013, Wallinger created Labyrinth, a permanent commission to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground that spans all 270 stations on the network.

Wallinger has held solo exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery, London, England (1995); Museum for Gegenwartskunst, Basel, Switzerland (1999); Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (1999); Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, England (2000); Vienna Secession, Vienna, Austria (2000); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany (2004); Museo de Arte Carillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico (2005); Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland (2008); Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Norway (2010); Museum de Pont, Tilburg, Netherlands (2011); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England (2012); Serlachius Museum, Mänttä, Finland (2016); The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2017); Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, Scotland (2017); Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy (2018) and Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, England (2018). His work is also displayed in the collections of many leading international museums including Tate, London, England; MoMA, New York, US; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.

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